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After a public hearing on a proposed tax increase the Liberty County Commission last week made historical grants, reappointed members to four boards and transacted other business. 

The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 6 provided for funding of local historical and cultural projects. The last tranche of these funds, $85,000, will go to six applicants and the Dorchester Improvement Association. 

Grants approved Tuesday include $12,000 each for Geechee Kunda, the Glenn Bryant Foundation, the Hinesville Arts Council, the Liberty County Historical Society and the Midway Museum. The Hinesville Downtown Downtown Development Authority will receive $10,000, the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce $9,500, and the Convention Visitors Bureau $5,394. 

Incumbent members of county boards reappointed were Brian Smith to the Coastal Area District Development Authority, Sen. Al Williams to the Liberty County Development Authority, Coroner Reggie Pierce and Daisy Pray to the Liberty County Hospital Authority, and Peggy McGee to the Liberty County Board of Health. 

Officials said no other applications for the open seats were received. 

Karen Bell of Keep Liberty Beautiful presented a proclamation of Nov. 15 as America Recycles Day which the commission adopted. Recycling is credited with generating 757,000 jobs and $36.6 billion in wages in the U.S. 

 The commission approved a recommendation to rezone a three-acre parcel on U.S. Highway 17 North for construction of a two-story mini storage building. The property owner is County Commissioner Pat Bowen who left the room while the matter was discussed and voted on.

Another zoning action granted a setback variance to Benjamin Carrol Jr. to allow him to build a home on an oddly shaped lot at Planting Hammock on Colonels Island.  

Introducing the tax increase hearing Commission Chairman Donald Lovette said, “No elected person I have ever met wants to raise taxes,” but no other avenue could be found to fund essential services, particularly public safety. More than $1 million to continue development of countywide fire protection. 

Tax millage for next year—expected to be adopted at the commission’s Nov. 19 meeting—will increase the rate to 16.3 mills outside Hinesville and 14.8 mills inside Hinesville.   

Chief Financial Officer Kim McGlothlin used an example of a home with a fair market value of $150,000 and no exemptions to illustrate the cost of the millage increase. In the unincorporated area of Liberty County and the six smaller municipalities, not Hinesville, the tax would go up by $60, from $918 to $978. 

The $150,000 home in Hinesville will pay $888 in county taxes, an increase of $22. Hinesville residents pay city taxes for a number of services and they are not required to pay county taxes for the same services provided by Hinesville. 

McGlothlin’s presentation noted that property tax exemptions have increased by more than $19 million, to $307 million in 2020. “Liberty is an exemption-rich county,” she said. Lovette said exemptions increased faster than the tax digest did. 

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